“Europe’s foreign policy: truth or legend?” Was the focus of a conference in Rome dedicated to the presentation of the book The Foreign Policy of the European Union, Assessing Europe’ s Role in the World published by the Brookings Institute Press and edited by Federiga Bindi, holder of the Jean Monnet chair and political science researcher at the University of Rome at Tor Vergata.
Debate participants included Minister Franco Frattini, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Lamberto Dini and US Ambassador to Rome David Thorne. Frattini and Dini’s argumentations both referred to what enactment of the Lisbon Treaty means in terms of operational structures through which to manage European foreign policy: Frattini stressed that without the common training of officials destined for the European Foreign Service there is the risk of “putting in the same cart” officials with completely different histories, provenances, cultures and traditions, and that for that reason the EU had to discuss “at least a plan for the training of new diplomats”. More in general, according to Minister Frattini, the taking effect of the Lisbon Treaty leaves Europe “no excuse” for the absence of a common foreign policy.
Chairman Dini underscored how EU countries had decided to give “restrictive interpretations” to the functions of coordination rather than “exploit the possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty”. As for a European Diplomatic Service, he stated that “in the absence of political will there is the risk of creating a structure that is not capable of operating effectively”.
Ambassador Thorne asserted that the European Union’s foreign policy “is not a legend at all”, while illustrating how Washington well knows that in order to influence the foreign policy of the European Union it is going to be necessary to work “both at Community level as well as with each individual EU Member Country”. He also pointed out that Europe “continues to hold a truly central position” for the United States.